Comment on:

The following comment refers to this/these guideline(s)

Implementation of the Guidelines

All higher education institutions and non-HEI research institutions must implement levels one and two of guidelines 1 to 19 in the DFG Code of Conduct Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice in a legally binding manner in accordance with the organisational form of the institution. Compliance with this Code is a prerequisite for receiving DFG funding; institutions that do not implement the guidelines are not eligible for funding. When submitting funding proposals to the DFG and in accepting funding, applicants and grant recipients agree to adhere to the principles of good scientific practice as stipulated in DFG funding guidelines and the funding guidelines of programmes implemented by the DFG.

The Code enters into force on 1 August 2019. For those HEIs and non-HEI research institutions that have already implemented the relevant requirements in the DFG white paper Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice in a binding manner, there is a two-year transition period for implementing the guidelines in the Code. This period begins on 1 August 2019 and ends on 31 July 2021. [The transitional period for implementing the Code has been extended until 31 July 2023 by the DFG General Assembly.]

HEIs and non-HEI research institutions (particularly members of the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany) implement the guidelines in a legally binding manner according to the organisational form of the institution.

If a non-HEI (research) institution cannot implement the guidelines in a legally binding manner on its own due to its organisational structure or its particular nature or other circumstances, there are various options for implementing and acknowledging the Code. Institutions to which this applies may associate themselves with an institution that has implemented the DFG Code and acknowledge its implementation of the Code as binding for them (the cooperation model). If the non-HEI (research) institution cannot find a cooperation partner, it can contact the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK), which will arrange a partner institution that is willing to act in allegations of scientific misconduct in individual cases (backup model). In matters relating to ombudspersons, the institutions concerned may contact the German Research Ombudsman. They will implement the principles of the Code accordingly.

FAQ on implementation of the Guidelines

By when must the Code of Conduct be implemented in my institution?

Since the Code came into force on 1 August 2019, all HEIs and non-HEIs have had to implement the 19 guidelines and explanations of the Code on a legally binding basis in order to receive funding from the DFG.

Funding proposals can still be submitted if implementation is not finalised. If a proposal is submitted by an institution that has not yet undergone a final review and this is approved by the DFG’s bodies, a funding block can be applied. This means that the funding is not available until the formalities involving implementation of the Code have been completed.

What are the legal requirements regarding an institution’s implementing document?

The regulations serving the legally binding implementation of the DFG Code are to be issued by the higher education institutions and non-HEI research institutions based on a sufficient legal foundation in the legislation of the respective federal state; the implementation document may be a statute, a regulation, etc. The legal nature of the implementation document depends on the organisational form of your institution. It is crucial that the content of the implementation has a legally binding effect for all academics working at your institution as well as for the management of the institution. As the DFG is not authorised to provide legal advice in individual cases in accordance with the Legal Services Act, we cannot provide any binding information on which specific implementation method can be considered for your institution in order to meet the aforementioned requirements. In case of doubt, this question should be clarified by your institution’s legal department.

To what extent must the Code be implemented by an institution? Do only the guidelines apply, or is the content of the accompanying explanations to be implemented, too?

Both Level 1 (guidelines) and Level 2 (explanations) are to be implemented, i.e. set out in specific terms in a way that is suitable for the individual institution. If necessary, it can be helpful to provide examples. Additional documents beyond the actual implementation text only have to be submitted if they are required for the purpose of implementation review by the DFG Head Office.

Does the structure of the Code need to be maintained for implementation?

No, analogous implementation is sufficient.

Does the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” still apply?

With the entry into force of the new Code of Conduct “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice” on 1 August 2019, the white paper applicable until that date was replaced. The white paper may continue to be referred to for interpretation and background purposes.

How is the DFG’s review of implementation of the Code carried out?

The submitted documents (in digital form) are checked by the Research Integrity Team for implementation of Levels 1 and 2 of Guidelines 1 – 19 of the Code. If there is a need for changes or additions, these are reported back to the institution in detail. The resulting revised version is then reviewed again upon receipt.

If the essence of the first and second level of the Code has been adequately taken into account in the regulation submitted and the legal examination is positively concluded, a notification to this effect is sent to the institution. The institution is then asked to send the document by post as an original or as a certified copy or as an electronic document with a qualified electronic signature within the meaning of the Digital Signature Act. This is necessary because the legally binding determination of implementation constitutes a document formally authorising the disbursement of DFG funding.
Once received, the institution’s eligibility to receive funding is indicated in the proposal processing system.

Does the implementation of the Code as a requirement for the disbursement of funding only relate to the funding instruments/funding of research networks (SFB, GRK, etc.) or also to person-specific funding instruments (research grants, etc.)?

As was previously the case with the implementation of the DFG white paper “Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice”, the implementation of the Code of Conduct “Guidelines for Safeguarding Good Research Practice” at the institution receiving funding is a prerequisite for this funding to be disbursed. This was decided on by the DFG’s General Assembly in 2019.

This means that, regardless of the funding instrument, implementation must have been positively reviewed by the DFG in order to receive DFG funding. The only exceptions are proposals for “major instrumentation by the federal states”, for example: in such cases, the DFG conducts the review but the funding requested or to be disbursed does not come from the DFG’s funding budget.

The comment belongs to the following categories:

Implementation of the Guidelines (faq)